Who Is Leonard Zeskind

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Who is Leonard Zeskind?

After writing on the topics of racism, anti-Semitism and the white supremacist movement for more than thirty years, my book, Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, has been published by Farrar Straus & Giroux.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded me one of its famous five year fellowships in 1998, the so-called genius grants.  I became a Petra Foundation Fellow in 1992 and was given the “Owen Bieber Civil Rights Award” by the Civil Rights Department of the United Automobile Workers Union in 1993. And in 1987 I received the Columbia University School of Journalism Paul H. Tobenkin Award for my contribution to an award-winning edition of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. 

I am a life time member of the NAACP, have in the past served on the board of directors of the Petra Foundation and the Kansas City Jewish Community Relations Bureau.  And I am president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, which examines racism, anti-Semitism and far-right social movements; analyzes their intersection with civil society and social policy; educates the public; and assists in the protection and extensions of human rights.

Almost three decades ago, I began researching and writing regularly with a portable typewriter and plastic press-on letters. I have been published in The American Prospect, Rolling Stone, The Nation, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among other periodicals.  Now I am also producing a regular cyberspace bulletin, The Zeskind Fortnight.  In addition, this website re-captures many of the articles, opinion pieces and essays that have been published over the years, with additional material periodically added to this archive.

Before turning to research and writing and professional human rights activism, I worked in heavy industry: on the warehouse dock of a lamp factory, on an automobile plant assembly line, and in steel fabrication shops helping to build large girders, columns, trusses, and other pieces of the architecture of manufacturing.  It is work that I enjoyed and still believe remains undervalued.  I am a high school graduate, and others consider me a self-taught independent scholar. 

I remain a life-long activist with the hope of repairing a badly torn world.